Rhubarb works well in sweet, savory recipes

2013-04-10T00:00:00Z Rhubarb works well in sweet, savory recipesThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

When I informed The Husband that I was going to make pork with a rhubarb sauce, he dismissed the idea out of hand. He does not like sweet in his savory.

I tried to explain (as I have a thousand times before) that there's a good reason why any number of classic dishes team up meat and fruit, including duck a l'orange, foie gras with apples and pork with prunes. Fruit contains acid as well as sugar, and acid has a winning way of cutting through the fatty richness of duck, pork and brisket.

The Husband wasn't buying it. He'll eat his roast duck with a peppercorn sauce, his pork with French mustard, and his foie gras without accompaniment.

I could have noted that rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit, and that it's so tart (not sweet) it's rarely present in a recipe without some kind of sugar added for balance. I rocked on because I love rhubarb.

An import from England, rhubarb was known in 19th century America as "the pie plant" because that was where it usually ended up - in pies, often paired with strawberries. Rhubarb's acidity makes it a splendid ingredient in savory dishes.

In your grocery store, rhubarb looks a lot like celery, except that it's usually a fetching reddish-purple in color. It comes in long, slender stalks, with strings running from top to bottom. To eliminate the toughness of the strings, some cooks peel rhubarb before cooking. I deal with the issue by thinly slicing the stalks across the grain of the strings.

Given its high water content, turning rhubarb into a sauce requires little more than cooking it. It breaks down quickly and becomes nice and thick.

In my recipe, it needed some counter-balancing sweetness, so I kept the granulated sugar to a bare minimum in favor of fresh orange juice. Given how quickly this recipe comes together, make sure all your ingredients are prepped and ready to go before you start.

As for the cut of pork on which we ladle this sauce, I went with the tenderloin instead of the loin. Both are lean, but they call it the tenderloin, after all, for a reason. However, this isn't to say it won't turn out tough and dry if you overcook it, so be sure to keep your eye on the cooking time and let it rest after you've taken the meat out of the skillet.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Rhubarb-Orange Sauce

Serves: 6

• 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed of fat

• Kosher salt and ground black pepper

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

• 2 teaspoons sugar

• 2 tablespoons minced shallot

• 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

• 1 cup orange juice

• 2 teaspoons water

• 1 teaspoon cornstarch

• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

• Chopped fresh chives, to garnish

Trim off the thin end piece of each tenderloin, cutting off about a 3-inch section. Slice the remaining portion of each tenderloin crosswise into 3/4-inch rounds. You should end up with about 18 to 20 pieces, including the 2 thin sections cut from the ends. Season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Working in batches, add the pork to the skillet. Cook, turning to brown on all sides, for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the pork is just pink at the center (about 145 degrees). Transfer the pork to a plate, cover with foil and let it rest while you prepare the sauce.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the rhubarb and the sugar. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the orange juice and simmer for 2 minutes.

In a small bowl or glass, whisk together the water and cornstarch, then add to the simmering broth in a stream, whisking. Return the sauce to a boil, then whisk in the mustard and any juices that have collected on the plate from the pork.

To serve, divide the pork medallions between 6 plates, then top with some of the sauce. Garnish with chives.

Per serving: 200 calories; 60 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 25 g protein; 420 mg sodium.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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